BUSINESSES in the south east frustrated by a lack of bank funding for growth are being targeted by WestBridge Capital which has £30 million to invest in established SMEs.

The fund, raised from private high net worth investors and institutional investors, is supported by the European Union through its ‘Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme’, which is managed by the European Investment Fund.

Set up to provide investment to fast growing and profitable SMEs, the fund has already invested £8 million into four companies – The Healthcare Learning Company Limited; Kallidus Holdings Limited; Aero Stanrew; and Energist Group.

Valerie Kendall, partner at WestBridge, said:

“We are one of a very small number of teams to complete a meaningful fundraising in the current climate.  

“Our approach is unique and our aim of backing south east SMEs gives us a real edge in today’s market. 

“We have set our sights on the south east because of the high density of companies in the sectors we’re keen to work with – engineering, healthcare, software, technology, aerospace and defence – although we will always consider businesses from other sectors, too.

“Our fund is supported by many successful ‘industrialist investors’ who have grown their own businesses, and who have a lot of experience and knowledge to impart.

“We know from first-hand experience that backing rapidly growing businesses, many family-owned, is a very exciting area of the market.

“We work closely with our network to support the SMEs we invest in – whether it’s providing constructive and practical advice or making business and corporate introductions – anything that ultimately helps enhance returns for our investors.”

The four WestBridge partners believe passionately in backing SME businesses and collectively have one of the best investment track records in the industry, having all formerly worked in blue chip private equity businesses.  All have made significant personal investment into the fund.

Kendall added:

“There are many south east based companies seeking funding but with the banks still being cautious, they are getting frustrated.  Experienced investors like us can identify those companies with potential to provide strong investor returns.  Whether they need development capital, acquisition funding or support for management buy outs, we can help.

“Management teams that partner with us should do extremely well because of the track record and experience of our team, which is significantly deeper and wider than many investors out there.

“Although we have a strong pipeline of potential transactions, we are always looking for high quality management teams to support.”

European Investment Fund chief executive Richard Pelly said:

"WestBridge targets small mid-caps, a segment of the market which is in urgent need of additional financing tools and is currently suffering from limited investors' interest. 

“By backing this team of seasoned managers, we are convinced that innovative businesses in the south east will get the opportunity to grow into tomorrow's champions. This illustrates EIF's commitment to support the development of entrepreneurship in Europe".